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Paralympic para-alpine skiing: Canada’s Viviane Forest does the trifecta, wins visually impaired downhill gold

 

 
 
 
 
Canada's Viviane Forest (right) and her guide Lindsay Debou celebrate their silver medal performance at the 2010 Winter Paralympic Games in Whistler on Sunday. Forest added gold to her medal collection on Thursday with a victory in the women's visually impaired downhill.
 

Canada's Viviane Forest (right) and her guide Lindsay Debou celebrate their silver medal performance at the 2010 Winter Paralympic Games in Whistler on Sunday. Forest added gold to her medal collection on Thursday with a victory in the women's visually impaired downhill.

Photograph by: Andy Clark, Reuters files

WHISTLER — Viviane Forest of Edmonton won Canada's third alpine gold and her first of the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games today in the women's visually impaired downhill at Whistler Creekside.

Forest, who was been struggling with a groin injury picked up in training a few weeks ago, now has a full set of medals from the international games for adaptive athletes.

She took the bronze in Tuesday's giant slalom and a silver in Monday's slalom race.

The gold actually was her third in Paralympic Games competition and was achieved by a narrow margin. The Canadian was 0.66 seconds ahead of Henrieta Farkasova of Slovakia. Danielle Umstead of the United States grabbed the bronze.

Forest won gold at the 2000 and 2004 Summer Paralympics in the sport of goalball, a three-on-three game for visually impaired athletes.

"I'm still competing in a team sport, because I couldn't have done it without Lindsay. We're a team," Forest said.

Lindsay Debou of Whistler, Forest's guide, has been working with the skier for the past two seasons.

Originally from Montreal, Forest took up skiing four years ago after suffering a series of concussions in goalball. But the dangers of traumatic head injuries are just as profound in skiing. Last season, she picked up a major concussion in a race in Spain and lost her limited sight for a period of 24 hours.

Forest is afflicted with albinism and retinitis pigmentosa and has only four per cent of normal vision.

With two more races to go, it is her goal to finish on the podium in all five events in which she is entered.

• • •

Para-alpine skiing is taking place at Whistler Creekside.

Alpine ski races for athletes with a disability have been held since the late 1940s. The invention of the mono-ski — a seat fixed on single ski — opened the sport to athletes who could not stand to ski. Mono-skis are equipped with short outriggers (forearm crutches with shortened skis attached at the base for balance and steering). Slalom and giant slalom were introduced at the first Paralympics Winter Games in Örnsköldsvik in 1976. Downhill was added to the Paralympic Games in 1984 in Innsbruck, and Super-G was added in 1994 at Lillehammer. Mono-skiing became a medal event at the Nagano 1998 Paralympic Games.

In Paralympic alpine skiing, athletes are classified as standing, sitting or visually impaired and compete against other athletes with a similar disability. Skiers with a visual impairment use the same equipment as able-bodied skiers, but ski with a guide. Skiers with locomotive disabilities may either use the same equipment as able-bodied skiers or a prosthesis (an artificial arm or leg) and stabilizers in place of ski poles (stabilizers are a type of crutch with a small ski at the end). Sitting skiers use a mono-ski.

Alpine events for men and women are downhill, slalom, giant slalom, super combined and super G.

(Vanoc website)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Canada's Viviane Forest (right) and her guide Lindsay Debou celebrate their silver medal performance at the 2010 Winter Paralympic Games in Whistler on Sunday. Forest added gold to her medal collection on Thursday with a victory in the women's visually impaired downhill.
 

Canada's Viviane Forest (right) and her guide Lindsay Debou celebrate their silver medal performance at the 2010 Winter Paralympic Games in Whistler on Sunday. Forest added gold to her medal collection on Thursday with a victory in the women's visually impaired downhill.

Photograph by: Andy Clark, Reuters files

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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